A room theme and wall decor idea for a fickle kid

My 4yo, Gracie, changes her mind about her “favorite thing in the world” on a weekly basis. One week it’s all about Dora. The next, Disney Princesses. The next, Olivia the Pig.

This has made decorating her room pretty tricky. She had been living with bare walls since March because I was stumped about what to do. I was hesitant to invest in any character-themed decor for her because I know the second I buy princess bedding, she’ll be DONE with princesses.

And I like Disney and Nick Jr. and all, but I just didn’t want to be surrounded by so much of it, all the time, you know?

So I finally convinced Ms. Fickle to go with a very general animal theme. She loves stuffed animals and sleeps with about 23 of them on her bed, so I thought an animal theme might have some staying power.

And it’s turned out to be really cute! Gracie’s nursery had a patchwork-quilt theme to it, so I ran with that and weaved in pretty animal elements.

My mom generously bought her some lovely bedding from PBK, and I found a cute little painting of owls at Home Goods.

But there was this huge, blank, blue wall staring at me. And I didn’t know what to do with it.

I do have a collection of Steiff animals I plan to put on a shelf on one side of that wall. Someday.

But what about the rest of the big, barren wall?

Happily, fate intervened when I got an email from Dezign with a Z, which sells removable wall decals. Would I want to try out one of their decals and review it, they asked?

Yes! Perfect! Hooray!

So after perusing the site for a while, I picked this lovely tree decal. I decided to put it in the left corner of the room, over Gracie’s reading chair. Like a little tree of knowledge. Awwwww.

Putting up the decal was easy-peasy. I followed the simple directions and ta-da! Pretty wall decal, done.

The instructions said to rub the decal firmly onto the sticky white paper and then again firmly onto the wall, and I did have to put some muscle into it when a couple of leaves didn’t quite stick. But no big deal. It worked. And it’s beautiful – and removable, for when Gracie decides she’s too old for sweet little animals (sob!).

When Gracie walked into her room that afternoon, she stared with big eyes at the tree and said: “Woooooooow. Mommy, that’s the prettiest tree I’ve ever seen.”

Mission accomplished.

Now if I could just find the time and motivation to find and hang a darn shelf on the wall for the Steiff animals. Hopefully I’ll get around to it before Gracie turns 15.

Are you having problems decorating for a fickle kid? Would an animal theme work for your child – or is it all cartoon characters, all the way?

Thanks to Dezign with a Z for sending me a free wall decal to try out and review. Check out their selection of beautiful and fun wall decals at DezignWithaZ.com.

Linden Square Family Fun & The Cottage: A Giveaway and Review

 

Linden Square in Wellesley reeeeallly wants you to come hang out with them. So much so that they invited me to a media brunch at The Cottage restaurant and gave me a bunch of goodies to share with you – including a Bella Sante spa gift card, shopping discounts, and more! (See giveaway at the end of this post.)

Honestly, I was a little skeptical about Linden Square being a family-friendly destination, especially for my, ahem, spirited children. But I stand corrected.

Here’s why you should check out Linden Square to shop, dine, and hang out with (or without) your kiddos – ideally ASAP while their free summer events are going on:

  • Two words: The Cottage. OMG, The Cottage. What a-maz-ing food and service. We had a spectacular brunch there. More on that in a minute.
  • Shopping galore. Lovely boutiques, kids’ clothes, a fab toy store called Magic Beans, and more. Lots of stuff you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Nosh while you shop. Starbucks and Pinkberry, anyone?
  • Free entertainment on Saturdays! Through 9/15, Linden Square has free entertainment in their courtyard from 1pm-4pm. When I was there, I saw a kid’s musician, balloon animal maker, and crafts all going on.
  • Grab your groceries while you’re at it. Roche Bros. is right there!

You can see all the shops and restaurants on the Linden Square website.

Honestly? I can’t wait to go back. And I’m not saying that because I got a free brunch out of the day. Even if the Hubs, the girls, and I only manage to go to brunch at The Cottage and they check out the free entertainment (while I sneak off and shop a bit) – I call that a successful family outing!

Speaking of The Cottage… 

You. Must. Go.

I am a novice foodie. I adore fabulous restaurants. And after a visit to The Cottage in Chestnut Hill a few months ago, and now the original Wellesley location, I can say it’s one of my favorite restaurants around.

Along with Kristen from The Boston Fashionista, Smita Jacob from Hogger & Co., Neil from BeerHogger, and Suzette from Wellesley Media, I was treated to a full spread of delicious brunchy heaven. As a result, I no longer have to mourn the closing of my beloved Baker’s Best in Newton. I have found my new home.

I had the lovely and simply perfect Stuffed Avocado with chicken salad. It was two meals’ worth of food for me – I had it again for dinner and it was still fabulous. I don’t know what The Cottage does to its chicken salad but it was the best I’ve ever had. EVER. The combo of the smooth avocado, the sweet and tangy chicken salad, earthy quinoa, and side of pickled veggies was genius.

I also noshed on the equally impressive Cottage Nachos and Tuna Nachos for appetizers, and for dessert I sampled everything they brought out (naturally). My faves were the Creme Brûlée Cheesecake and Fallen Chocolate Soufflé. Rich, delicious, perfection.

 

Kid-friendly plus: The Cottage has a great kids’ menu and is also insanely accommodating. In fact, our waiter told us it was not unheard of for someone in the kitchen to run over to Roche Bros. and grab ingredients to customize a dish for a diner with a special request. The place was filled with families and everyone seemed as happy as I was to be there. Don’t let the lovely decor scare you – the place is very kid-friendly!

Summary: Go. Enjoy. Tell them JD from Honest Mom sent you.  😉

And now for the giveaway…

Thanks to Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group, who hosted the brunch and gave us many lovely goodies, I have a giveaway for you!

Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. One lucky reader will win all four goodies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thank you to Caitlin Gambee and Aigner/Prensky for inviting me to their media brunch. The company was lovely and the food amazing! All opinions in this review are my own and my true opinions – because I am Honest Mom, after all.

Top Reasons to Visit Story Land in Glen, NH: An Honest Mom Review

Here’s my honest opinion on Story Land in Glen, NH: If you live in New England and have little kids, you have zero reason not to go.

Just a short ride from the charming town of North Conway, Story Land is an amusement park that’s geared toward families with young children. It’s a happy, magical place that my kids look forward to visiting every year. The park is easy to navigate, has classic storybook-themed rides and attractions that kids love, and is the essence of family fun.

We are Story Land veterans – this year was the fifth year in a row that we went – but even after all these years, there are still rides and attractions we haven’t done. Yes, there are couple of things I would like Story Land to fix (more on that later). But we’ll be back next year – and here’s why…

Honest Mom’s Top Reasons to Visit Story Land in Glen, NH

1. It’s perfect for kids ages 9 and under. Story Land says it’s great for ages 2-12, but one of the kids we were with is 9 and was definitely a bit bored – though he was a good sport about it. But my 3yo and 6yo were in HEAVEN at Story Land. This is an amusement park that absolutely caters to little kids.

2. The rides! Gracie, my 3yo’s faves were the Cuckoo Clockenspiel (a tea-cup ride that you get to spin as fast as you want), the Whirling Whales (another ride that goes in circles), and the Flying Fish (suspended, whirling fish that go in circles – do you sense a theme?).

Annie, my 6yo, adores the Polar Coaster, the Bamboo Chutes (log flume ride), and the Cuckoo Clockenspiel. She also loves the Turtle Twirl but my stomach can’t handle all that whirling!

3. But there’s more to Story Land than the rides. Some of Gracie’s favorite stuff actually weren’t rides. She looooves the Huff Puff & Whistle Railroad Train that goes around the park.

And my favorite moment of the whole trip was watching Gracie’s pure joy as she smiled and clapped along with the animatronic singing vegetables at the Farm Follies. Annie was not amused – too cool for school at age 6. But Gracie was completely entranced and eventually had to be coaxed to move on.

Last year we went to the Story Land circus and it was great, but this year we didn’t make it to a single show. And that’s not because they aren’t fun – my girls were just very focused on the rides and treats this year.

4. Oh yes. Tasty treats. Ice cream, fried dough, fudge, Icees, even Dole Whips for you Disney lovers … you can find it all at Story Land. My girls’ favorite treat (okay, it was Hubs’ and my favorite treat, too) were the snow cones from the little hut near the Bamboo Chutes entrance. Actually, they were more like snow bowls – a huge serving of shaved ice in a bowl with whatever flavorings you want. Each of us got three flavors and they were sooooo good. And when they melted a bit? Delicious slushy goodness.

5. Get there in the PM of day one, go for free the next day. If you purchase admission in the last three hours of one day, your next full day at Story Land is free. We take advantage of this almost every year! It lets you hit some of the bigger rides at the end of the day when the youngest visitors have already gone home and the lines are shorter.

Now, there are a few things at Story Land that were not the stuff of fairy tales, unfortunately. And in the spirit of honesty, I do want to mention them – because I know the people who run Story Land will truly want to know what wasn’t magical about our visit.

So what exactly wasn’t ideal?

Something that is great about Story Land is that it employs tons of local teenagers. But something that isn’t great is when those teenagers are acting like, well, teenagers.

We had some surly customer service when getting our lunch, and some ride operators were obviously uninterested in being there. Dude, I get it. You were up late last night partying. But we paid to be here. You are paid to work here. Fake some enthusiasm already, will ya?

And speaking of food … well, our Pixie Kitchen lunch left much to be desired. I had a very sad salad with grilled chicken, my kids turned their noses up at the mac and cheese (definitely not Kraft), and Hubs had a “edible enough” grilled cheese.

Then we got ice cream cones at Yum Yum Junction which turned out to be a small scoop of ice cream on a empty cone – no ice cream inside the cone. Which is a pet peeve of mine. Being a former ice cream parlor employee, I know a cardinal rule of serving ice cream is to FILL THE CONE with ice cream.

And one final thing that nagged at me: The park itself was quite clean, but the bathrooms were not. Neither were the tables in the food areas. Story Land definitely needs to have some more cleaning people on staff, especially on busy weekend days. Or maybe those surly teens need to get off their duffs and do their jobs. Ahem.

But – don’t let these minor complaints stop you from going to Story Land. It is a BLAST! The large majority of the staff is lovely. The place is chock-full of wholesome family fun. And your kids will adore it. Even if you have been to Disney World, they’ll love it. I can attest to that – we went to Disney this past Spring and were wondering if our girls would be unimpressed with Story Land after that. But they weren’t.

The magic of Story Land still reigned.

 

Thank you to Story Land for giving my family a four-pack of tickets to the park. All opinions in this review are my own and were not at all influenced by the tickets provided – because I am Honest Mom, after all.

Photo credits: Wikipedia, South Shore Mamas, me, me, me, greenplasticamy, and Union Park Press.